These cities of refuge are an illustration of how we find salvation in Jesus Christ. Now it is not a perfect illustration. This appointment of the cities of refuge was for people who were innocent of any real crime. We’re not innocent, we’re guilty of sin. Furthermore, although these cities were spaced throughout the land at convenient intervals, a person who had accidentally killed somebody else nevertheless had to scramble to get to one of them. They might be overtaken on the way. But salvation is never like that. We don’t have to scramble to find Jesus Christ. He is there with open arms, inviting us to come to Him. Not only that, but He actually pursues us. It’s not we who pursue Him. But even with these important differences, this illustration still makes some good points for us.
Do you enjoy getting missionary letters? In this age of voluminous and many times worthless communications, I suppose there are Christians who get missionary letters and simply throw them away, the way they throw away many worthless advertisements. But for my part, I enjoy missionary letters. I enjoy them because, by reading them, I feel that a window has been opened for me into Christian work in some other portion of the world, and I am interested in that. I am encouraged to learn what God is doing there.
When God’s people worship God, they always do two things: 1) they pray, and 2) they reflect on the Scriptures. Prayer is our talking to God; the Scriptures are God’s talking to us, and the two always go together. You pray in a right way when you pray scripturally. You study the Scriptures in a right way when you study prayerfully. This is what the church was doing. They had been reflecting on the Scriptures. Now, as they began to pray, the Scriptures, as it were, rose up in them, and they found themselves talking to God in God’s own words, the words of Scripture.
The minds of these early Christians were being scripturally transformed, because, although in a certain sense, being devout Jews, they already knew the Scriptures, before this they had not understood them. They had read the Old Testament. They had heard it in the synagogues. I am sure they had even memorized important passages. But they did not really understand them. It was only after Jesus died and had risen again and the Holy Spirit had come, that their eyes were opened and they saw the Old Testament in its true light.
The verses that came to the minds of the Christians in this important worship service were from Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is a great Messianic psalm, but this is the first time its words have appeared in Acts. The psalm is a record of human rebellion against God and God’s response to it, but it is the verses dealing with the rebellion itself that they cite: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed One” (Acts 4:25-26).
We come then to the second half of this last section of Acts 4, and here we see a vignette reflecting on the life and work of the church in those days. It was a bit like living in Eden. True, the church was composed of sinful people. We are going to see a pair of them in the very next chapter. But still it was a glorious time. We are told three things about them.
Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
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